By Chimwemwe Mwanza
The narrative in our politics has been fluid like a pendulum on steroids. Understandably so, Zambia has such an unusual talent of swinging from one crisis to another; from battling to identifying an owner of 48 houses that sprang from nowhere, to experiencing a prolonged load shedding streak and now the sky-rocketing price of our only staple commodity, mealie meal. It’s all becoming too familiar a pattern.
Amidst all this muddle, a clumsy opposition leader emerges from nowhere and purportedly throws epithets at the President. This mud – throwing incident was deemed grave enough to deflect from the core issues affecting the country. In the ensuing diversion, a warrant of arrest is hastily effected against the perpetrator, subsequently leading to his incarceration at the hands of the police. This pretty much surmises a charade that was last week.
Make no mistake, politicians are masters of deception, precisely why confusion is their best friend. Like a bolt from the blue, nobody saw this one coming. But here we are, suddenly saddled with a Chishimba Kambwili problem created by this politician’s lack of civility and use of uncouth language.
To begin with, never kick a man when he is down and screaming for help, so goes a refrain. However, Kambwili’s case is a curious one. At this point, he will do very well to heed a warning by former US President, Woodrow Wilson – who during a moment of reckoning invoked this famous quote: “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
Ideally, this should be his moment of reflection on his conscience especially in the wake of the bizarre de-registration of his party and the single night’s incarceration which he recently experienced at the hands of police. As a matter of caution, he will soon find out that, it is one thing to stand defiant against a brutal regime and another to be a pariah of the ruling PF government. If he dare argue, he should ask GBM?
Yet, Kambwili is not your average politician, some might argue. A great orator with an acerbic tongue that often speaks with an unmatched bravado, this political animal has been a consummate shape-shifter on the Zambian political landscape. He is not only cut from the PF cloth but his entire political genealogy is firmly rooted in the governing party. Ever fearless, his cunning ability to spot opportunity, led him to become one of the first opposition politicians on the Copperbelt to jump on the PF bandwagon.
The businessman turned politician built his reputation by railing against corruption. Together with his contemporaries such Mukanga Yamfwa and Anthony Mumba among others, they resolutely stepped up to address challenges of their time – which by then focused largely on removing MMD from power. And this, they achieved with greater efficiency – dispatching MMD to near oblivion.
How ironic that the fall from his perch was precipitated by an investigation into alleged corrupt activities instituted by his own government. Not surprising that he was quick to dismiss the alleged malfeasance. Do we believe him? It’s only politicians of his ilk that can speak with a forked tongue and lie eloquently while holding a straight face.
Thus, it’s not a stretch that he is partly responsible for the creation of this repressive and intolerant political environment that is allergic to truth and objectivity. Until recently, he was government’s hatchet man threatening the media fraternity with reprisals for reporting negatively on government. His mischaracterisation of the media as an adversary, largely prompted him to make such irresponsible threats. In fact, the annihilation of critical independent media from our discourse counts as his single biggest achievement of his tenure as Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Now, contrary to his posture, Kambwili did not resign from PF out of his own volition but was rather kicked out of the party. If it were up to him, he would still be a parliamentarian, representing Roan constituency under the PF. So, by threatening to increase his volume in his crusade against corruption and other ills, he wants to make us believe that duplicity is a norm that should be accepted in politics? This is rich especially coming from a paragon of questionable virtues.
Hence, his transformation from the biblical Saul – who saw light on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus – to Paul the great apostle of the word, should be treated with great circumspect otherwise we risk the possibility of creating a political martyr out of a rogue.
Whatever the perceived persecution by government, Kambwili’s circumstances should best serve as an apt reminder of what could easily become of those that are drunk with and abuse power. In short, this man has just fallen on his sword. Kwasu kwa kapatamoyo, tikuti chawona munzako, mumawa chili pali iwe.
Mwanza is an avid reader of political history and philosophy. He loves Nshima with game meat. The only thing he supports is Liverpool Football club.